Friday, May 31, 2013

Five for Friday and Friday Flashback!

Today I am doing my first link up Teaching Madness for Friday Flash Back & Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!   This week has actually been quite busy and lots of fun, so I am excited to share about my 5 random things!
1. FAIRY TALE WEDDING! Over Memorial Day weekend my husband and I got to spend our weekend in Greenville, South Carolina to celebrate the wedding of my dear friend!  For those of you who have never been to South Carolina, like me, it's definitely worth a trip!  The landscape in the Greenville area is beautiful with lush green mountains, cute and quaint town with tons of yummy restaurants, gorgeous golf courses, beautiful weather.  There is just something about the fresh air there that is different than the Chicago air.  It was so refreshing!  So anyhow, my girlfriend was the most stunning bride and every venue for the wedding was just impeccable! From the chapel on a cliff, to the champagne toast overlooking the mountains, to the serene banquet room at a gorgeous golf course, delicious food, great entertainment, and the beautiful decor I couldn't imagine a more perfect fairy tale wedding! 

#2. FAIRY TALES! Speaking of fairy tale weddings,  these past 2 weeks Carrie has been teaching the students about Fairy Tale elements and comparing different versions of fairy tales during whole class read alouds.  Students listened to Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk, and more with many various versions and twists!  Students participated in whole class comprehension strategies such as compare and contrasting characters, comparing several different versions of a particular fairy tale. 

 To go along with this fairy tale unit, I took it a step further during guided reading time and created a Fairy Tale Frenzy unit that focuses on several different comprehension skills with fairy tales! Fairy tales are such a great way to reinforce retelling, sequencing, making connections, summarizing, understanding character traits, problem/solution, fluency, cause/effect, etc.  Pretty much the ideas are endless and I wanted to put a package together that touched on a little bit of everything!  So a few days ago, I had the students use the "Fairy Tale Book" graphic organizer that is the the Fairy Tale Frenzy package.  Students got to pick any of the many read alouds that had already been read to them to read independently.   Students then used their "Fairy Tale Book" to complete all of the comprehension strategies with the book they chose!  This was a great end of the year comprehension activity to see how well students could apply different strategies all within one book, and all on their own!!

 This is the first BIG product that I created and I'm thrilled to share it with you! It's a small price to pay @ only $4.99 for 50+ pages worth of fun fairy tale activities and graphic organizers, BUTTTTT I'm giving it away to three lucky winners! 

You can enter to win through next Thursday, June 6th! (Our last day of school!!) We will randomly select three lucky winners and reveal them on Friday, June 7th!

All you have to do is:
1. Follow our blog
2. Follow our TPT stores (Caitlin & Carrie)
3. Pin one of the fairy tale pictures onto your pinterest and leave the pinterest URL in your comments.
4. Leave your email address on your post. 

Good luck and thank you!

 #3. SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING WITH QR CODES! On the flip side of my reading intervention services that I provide to students, I am  also a special ed teacher and work with students with social emotional needs.  I have been working with my little 2nd grade student for the past 2 years and can't believe how much she has grown social/emotionally!! :)  I have been implementing our ED curriculum called STRONG START to help her work on nervousness, self-esteem, courage, taking risks, building and maintaing friendships, effort, and active listening skills.   Today we got to do a fun activity with QR codes.  The last few days we have been working on the skill of "How to Be a Good Friend."  First we read the book "Rainbow Fish" and discussed how Rainbow Fish was not a good friend at the beginning and how his feelings changed throughout the book once he got some help.  We then did an activity where my friend listed qualities that make a good friend and how to ask a peer to play with you.

Today I wanted to do an activity that worked on her self-esteem, nervousness, and friendship skills.  I told her that she could choose any student from her class to play the game with.  Of course of all days, I couldn't get her to even choose ONE student to play with : ( I was so bummed!...So I gave in after she basically refused to walk into her class to find a friend.  Of course, I chose a student and instantly all of her nervousness went away. GO FIGURE! As soon as she got to scan a QR code and read the question to her friend, the girls instantly started laughing and were able to come up with their own silly responses! They answered a few more questions and then I added another student to come play...again, the nervous feelings were dissipating and my little friend was enjoying a little friendship building time with ease!  I told the girls to just have fun and pretend that Mrs. Kramer was invisible and not apart of the conversation!  Some examples from the QR codes were "If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?" or "The zoo animals are hungry.  You are going shopping for food.  What food will you buy for the animals?" or "Pretend you are invisible.  Tell me about what adventures you would go on."  or "If you could hang out with a character for the day what would you do with them?" It was so reassuring to see my little girl break out of her shell and just be her!  I'm truly going to miss her and I have to admit I've already shed a tear that she is moving on to our next building. : (

#4. MATH OLYMPICS!  Yesterday, the 2nd students got to participate in our very own math olympics!!  Each of the 8 second grade teachers all had a fun, kinesthetic game that involved different concepts that the students worked on this year!  Activities including stacking paper cups with basic addition and subtraction facts, throwing soft balls into buckets and adding 3 digit by 3 digit numbers, measurement, addition and subtraction with dice and more!  At the end all of the students earned a cute little gold medal for all of their hard work this year!  Our activity was measurement.  We had a "measurement relay" and a "measurement hunt".  The first group had to be indoors due to rain, but the last few were able to work outside!

 #5.  FIELD DAY!! Wahooo, today was a fun-filled field day for our 2nd graders!  Thank goodness the weather held out and students were able to enjoy and sweat off all of their end of the year energy!  Carrie and I even tried to join in and do some hula hoop action...unfortunately our we lost our groove and our hips don't move the way they used to! :)

I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit about our fun and busy week! Can't wait to hear what everyone else did!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Budding Blog

We are linking up today with I {heart} Recess  for the May Budding Blog linky party.  

1.  Why did you start blogging?  
I have been following blogs since I started teaching 2nd grade last year.  It was such a great way for me to get ideas after switching grade levels.  Reading other teacher's blogs inspired me to start my own.  When Caitlin and I started team teaching this year, we both had the passion to create our own blog and here we are! 

2.  What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
My favorite subject to teach is Math!  I love being able to incorporate games and food to make it more engaging for my students.   I enjoy watching my students' faces light up when they solve a problem.  

3.  Describe your teaching style.
That's a hard one!  I strive to be as creative as possible in my teaching and allow my students to be creative as well.  I think that using a child's multiple intelligences is important!  I love to use technology whenever possible.  We have iPads and laptops that we incorporate into the classroom through whole class and small groups.  I like to use centers, small groups, and partners as much as I can.  Engaging my students as much as possible is so important!

4.  Give three interesting facts about you.
Well, let see . . . . what's interesting about me??  I'm not sure . . . 
*I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan, obsessed with Dave Matthews Band and love Magnolia Cupcakes!
*My favorite place to visit is New York City (where I discovered my love of Magnolia Cupcakes and where I want to live someday!)
*My husband and I both grew up in the same small town in Central Illinois and started dating in high school.  We have been happily married for 13 years (in July).  We do however disagree on baseball, as he is a diehard Cubs fan and I am a diehard Cardinals fan.  But, we both love to watch Illini basketball and traveled to Austin, Texas over spring break to watch them play in March Madness!!  

5.  Do you have a TPT store?  If yes, post the link :)
Caitlin and I both started our TPT stores earlier this year.  We have a lot of ideas and hope to get more items listed over the summer.  Please check out the link's below!

Check back on June 3rd for our summer linky party.

We hope this will be a great way for everyone to share their summer fun and new ideas they are working on for the upcoming school year!

We have 10 more days till summer break.  How many do you have left??


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunny Summer Days Linky

Since summer break is fast approaching,  we've decided to host a fun summer weekly linky party!  We thought this would be a great way for everyone to share what they are working on for the upcoming school year and share the fun vacations and activities that everyone is doing!  

What do you think?  Is this something you would link up to??  Our plan is to start the first week of June.  We will post more details next week!

As our year is ending, I've been preparing some end of the year gifts for our kiddos.  On our last day I usually give our students a jar of bubbles.  We spend some time outside blowing bubbles and they have a blast!  I made a cute little tag to add to the jar of bubbles.  I created a color version and a black and white version.  

Click on the pictures or HERE to download your free copy.

I've also decided to give my students a bag of goldfish (which they love).  I found some cute orange and white polka dot ziplock bags in the dollar spot at Target (one of my favorite places to shop for my class).  I plan to fill the baggies with goldfish and add these cute tags to show the kids they are "o-FISH-ally" in 3rd grade!  I created a color version and a black and white version.   I made tags for students entering 1st thru 6th grades. 

Click on the pictures or HERE to download your free copy.



Five for Friday and End of the Year Portfolios

I really love linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for  Five for Friday, but, I never seem to be able to get myself together to post on Friday!  One of these days . . . . I'll be on time!!

We are also linking up for the first time with Teaching Maddeness for "Friday Flashback"!  Very 

We had a busy week working on end of the year assessments, learning about biographies, fairy tales, 3-D shapes and cleaning our very messy desks!!

1.  This week we read five different versions of Cinderella and compared each of them.  We read the original version, which is always a favorite.  Then we read "Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying!".  This version is told by the Step Mother.  It's quite comical!  Then we read "Cinder Edna".  Cinder Edna is Cinderella's practical neighbor, who knows how to make 16 different versions of tuna casserole!  "Cinder Elly" is a modern version of Cinderella, visiting a basketball game instead of a ball.  Our last story was a prehistoric version of Cinderella called "Dinorella".  Our kiddos really liked this one!

Students worked with partners to compare Cinderella to one of the other characters - the Step Mother, Cinder Edna, Cinder Elly, or Dinorella.  They came up with some great ways that they were alike and different.

2.  In math this week, we focused on 3-D shapes.  We learned about the edges, faces, and vertices for each type of 3-D shape.  We created 3-D shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks.  We love "food math" activities!!  Then students went on an I-Spy 3-D shapes around the room using real world examples.  

3.  We also spent some time practicing our math facts on xtra math.  The kiddos really love racing against the teacher!  One student earned 60 smiley faces in a row!!  He was so proud!!

4.  Our kiddos have been so chatty lately!  So, we moved our seats around and then realized how messy our desks were.  Sooooooo . . . we had to clean them out!  It was a process for sure!  

 5.  Finally, the summer vacay countdown begins . . . we have 13 days till break!!!  Happy Dance!!!  But there's sooooo much to get done before that, so the panic and stress has officially set in!!

 As we are wrapping up the end of the year, we are working on our end of the year portfolios.  All year I have been collecting work my students have completed.  We are going to take all of that work and put it together in a portfolio/memory book.  

I have created labels that the students use to write about their work - why it was hard or why they are proud of it.  I copy the labels onto shipping size labels (2x4) and they can attach them to the back of any piece.  

I also created some memory book pages that we are going to include in our portfolios.  Students will have fun writing about their friends, favorite things, what they love about their class, looking forward to next year, etc.  I can't wait to read what our kiddos write on their memory pages!

If you would like a copy for your class, click on the pictures above or HERE.

Be sure to check us out on Instagram!!  (I have to admit I'm slightly obsessed with it!!)

Hope everyone has a fantastic end of the year!  (If you are already on break, I am officially jealous!!)


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Reading is Thinking...with Post-Its!

For Today's Tried It Tuesday, I showed my little 2nd grade friends that READING IS THINKING!! These last few weeks of school I have decided to up the anty with my 2nd grade students who are reading at an early 2nd grade level.  We have been focusing so much on reading strategies, retelling, problem/solution, making predictions, asking questions,  non-fiction strategies that I wanted to make sure I taught my little friends a little bit more about what WE do as readers!  

Most importantly, I wanted my little guys to learn that "Reading is Thinking!"  I have seen various ideas on pinterest to help teach that reading is thinking.  After compiling ideas and thinking about what my readers need at this time to help them get ready for 3rd grade, I decided to teach them about "THINK MARKS/SYMBOLS" to demonstrate what kinds of things we think about as we read.  Using THINK SYMBOLS is a great visual tool that sticks with kids as they read.  Students can stop whenever they are reading to write down what they 
are thinking about.  This quick tool works as a check-in for teachers
to see what kids are thinking about as they read.  Students
are encouraged to write down their thoughts on post-it notes
and put them on the “POST-IT” page. 

In order to activate students’ thinking processes (metacognition), It would be beneficial to teach what thinking looks like during a whole group lesson and then in guided reading.  Eventually, students should be able to carry this thinking process into their independent reading books to demonstrate their thinking.  

Students were very excited to use the fun "THINK SYMBOLS" on their post-it notes and write their thinking with the support of the sentence stems!  I was thrilled to see that students were able to independently write their thoughts down using their guided reading books!  

If you're interested in helping your readers make meaning out of what they're reading...head on over to my TpT store! Click here to purchase your own copy!

This package includes:
* A key with THINK symbols
* Posters for each THINK symbol and sentence stems
* Mini sentence stem posters for students to put on a ring.
*Page for students to place their post-it notes (thinking) about the book they are reading.
*Bookmark with Think symbols and sentence stems
*Write a letter to a character
*Parent letter from students

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Made It, Let's Get Acquainted, and Instagram

We LOVE a good linky party and we are joining TWO in this post!  Yeah!!  

We are starting off with with "Monday Made It" with 4th Grade Frolics.

In my spare time, I love to scrapbook and create cards, invitations, gift tags, etc.  This weekend I spent some time completing orders I had for my Etsy shop.  One item that I get a lot of requests for are "Mousekeeping Envelopes".  Now, I'll admit I haven't been to Disney since I was in high school.  So, I'm not up on the etiquette at Disney, but evidently, one thing to do is to leave tips for the "Mousekeeping" staff in decorated envelopes.  I think that's a fun idea!!  I recently got a new Disney cartridge for my Cricut so I had a lot of fun creating some new Mousekeeping envelopes!

I also created some Mickey and Minnie Mouse gift tags to add to favor bags for a birthday party.

I also created a thank you card for a friend I teach with.  She wanted to thank the reading teacher who works in her room for helping her out with testing.  She is a bee keeper in her spare time, so my friend requested something with a bee on it.  I thought it turned out pretty cute!

Now, "Let's Get Acquainted"!  We are also linking up with Flying Into First Grade for this week's linky party.  

There are 3 questions this week!

1.  What made you decide to become a teacher?
As I was growing up, I loved to "play school" with my best friend.  We had a whole classroom set up in the play area in our basement.  My mom was also a teacher.  But, as I got older, I swore I'd never be a teacher.  My mom didn't believe me!  I started college as a business/accounting major.  After a year, I knew that wasn't for me and I switched majors.  My parents were pleasantly surprised and continue to this day to remind me that I said "I'd NEVER become a teacher".  I have to agree that it was one of the smartest decisions I've made!

2.  What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?
There have been many over the years, especially watching my struggling students succeed.  But last week during teacher appreciation, I had a student ask me what I wanted him to bring me the next day. I told him he didn't need to get me anything and he kept insisting, so I asked him to write me a note.  Now, keep in mind, this student comes from a tough home with very little support.  There are days when he doesn't seem at all interested in school and doesn't understand why it's not okay to say or do things that aren't appropriate because they are okay at home.  So we've worked hard on that all year.  So the next day he brought me a hand written letter, with pictures he'd drawn of us on the field trip and during guided reading groups.  He wrote that he likes that I make him laugh (sometimes), I'm nice, and don't give them a lot of homework.  The fact that he wrote this note on his own meant a lot to me and really made my week!  He's come along way this year with his academics and respect towards others.  I am so proud of him!

3.  If you were not a teacher, what would you be?
Well, that's a tough one.  I would love to move to Italy and open a bakery with delicious cupcakes!  Now I'm not really a great cook, so I don't think it would work out too well.  But, hey - I'd be in Italy, I could handle that for sure!!

On another note, we are on Instagram!!!  I LOVE checking out what other teachers are doing and seeing pictures of these ideas on Instagram is the best!!  So, if you are on Instagram follow us!  If you aren't, then what are you waiting for???  I think you'll love it as much as I do!!

Hope you have a fantastic week!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week, a Field Trip, and a TPT Sale . . .

It's been a busy week and it's not over yet!  There's so much going on at the end of the year . . .  it can be a bit overwhelming!

We started off the week with a little teacher appreciation!  Flowers, sweets, and homemade notes from our kiddos!

On Tuesday we took a field trip to the intermediate building to visit the 3rd grade classes.  Our students had a lot of questions and were full of emotions . . . excited, nervous, and sad to leave their home school for the past 3 years.  During our visit, we were paired up with another 3rd grade class.  We had sent over our questions ahead of time and they had answers prepared for us.  Students partnered up and took a tour of the building.  Getting lost and finding the bathrooms were the things my kids were most worried about! They also created bookmarks to take home and use with the book they are going to get for the summer reading program.  

As a part of Teacher Appreciation Week, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale!!  (I'm sure you all knew that already, right?? Ha!!)  So we are linking up with Blog Hoppin' to share the great products we picked up during this amazing sale!  

Here is just a few things I picked up, along with a lot of graphics to use in upcoming units!!

Just click on the pictures to take you to the units on TPT!

Be sure to check out the great products that other bloggers purchased at Blog Hoppin' 

And there are still a few hours left to shop so be sure to check out Carrie's Store and Caitlin's Store.  We have lots of great activities that can still be used this year and perfect for next year!

Hope everyone has a fantastic rest of the week!  
Happy Shopping!